The World Health Organisation reports that cases of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers have been increasing over the past decades. Currently, between two and three million non-melanoma skin cancers and 132,000 melanoma skin cancers occur globally each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer and, according to Skin Cancer Foundation statistics, one in every five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
As we know only too well, those with pale or freckled skin, fair or red hair and blue eyes belong to the highest risk group for skin cancer. A lack of skin pigmentation means their fair skin burns easily, with the UV radiation in the sun’s rays causing damage more quickly to fair skin. This means that gingers, above all others, need to take extra care when out in the sun.
The message about using clothing, wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, SPF 30+ sunscreen and seeking out shade has been hammered home many times and it remains as important as ever. However skin cancer rates continue to rise, so those of us at the highest risk may need to consider taking further action.
Aside from being diligent with sun safety, early detection is the best form of defence against skin cancer. Most skin cancers can be cured if detected early – the survival rate for the potentially deadly melanoma caught at the earliest stage is over 99%. So regularly checking your skin for changes is recommended.
It is recommended by experts that you check your skin for moles or marks that are changing or new about once a month. In adults, about 70% of melanoma cases are not associated with existing moles but form as new marks on the skin. Any changes to existing moles can be a concern, but in particular look out for growing size, changing shape, developing new colours, bleeding, pain, crusting, red around the edges or itching.
You should always tell your doctor about any changes to a mole or patch of skin or a new mark on adult skin.
Effective, regular self-monitoring can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of moles. That’s where new app technology offered by Miiskin can help. Miiskin helps you to track your skin and moles for changes over time by using photos to create snapshots of your skin and moles’ appearance. It also helps you to compare photos taken over time so you can track any changes, and its nifty push alerts mean you can be reminded of when you need to check your skin.
Miiskin is working in partnership with leading skin and cancer charities around the world including the British Skin Foundation in the UK and CANSA in South Africa, and on World Cancer Day Miiskin was the iTunes App Store’s ‘App of the Day’.
It should be noted that the Miiskin app does not diagnose skin cancer or tell you that you are at risk or not. The detection of skin cancer is far from simple and should only be undertaken by qualified doctors – not apps, so always consult your doctor if you have any concerns. Miiskin simply helps you to track your skin for changes, so that you can decide to seek medical help if you spot concerning changes.
Miiskin is free to download at your App store by searching for ‘Miiskin – Melanoma Skin Cancer’. Miiskin also offers a premium subscription that allows you to securely back up your photos, take photos of your skin as a whole to watch out for new spots and also allows you to access your photos from any device to help you to better compare your photos side by side on a big screen. The premium version comes with a 30-day free trial, so you can try it out before you pay.